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ADOR stars aiming to earn their stripes at US finish line

posted on 21/04/2015: 1291 views

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, ADOR, the emirate's entry in the Volvo Ocean Race, VOR, has left Itajai, Brazil, on the round the world race's sixth leg, to Newport, USA.

The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority-backed team passed the Itajai leaving marker at the end of the initial inshore section in third place in the six-boat fleet, which is expected to complete the 5,010 nautical-mile leg in around 20 days.

For the second day in succession, windless conditions prevailed in Itajai, making for slow sailing as the teams struggled to keep their yachts moving.

The ADOR crew had an uncharacteristic misfire at the start when they found themselves outside the starting line and were forced to restart behind the fleet. But the Abu Dhabi yacht was soon moving in the right direction and taking back places.

According to ADOR skipper, double Olympic silver medallist Ian Walker, the first week at sea could hold plenty of pitfalls to avoid on the approach to what will be the Abu Dhabi team's final equator crossing, another encounter with the unpredictable Doldrums, of this edition of the race.

"First we have to get away from the Brazilian coast and into the trade winds south of the Equator," Walker said. "Then, there will be big gains and losses at stake in the Doldrums based on how we well or badly we negotiate the huge rainclouds up there."

Once across the equator, ADOR will aim to hook into strong steady north-easterly trade winds and make some fast progress north towards Newport.

"That should be great sailing, 25 knots of wind and sunshine," said UAE sailing Olympian, Adil Khalid, who is back on board Azzam after recovering from illness. "But we need to be careful of our positioning," he added. "Decisions we make at that point could impact how we fare at the very end of the leg."

Echoing Khalid's caution, Walker said the weather forecast for the last 1,000 miles of the leg was a complete unknown at this stage, as was how important the fast-flowing stream Gulf Steam up the US east coast might be.

"Right now, we have no idea what weather we are going to get from the North American continent, so we will have to be ready to deal with anything," he said.

"We may be able to use the Gulf Stream to help towards Newport or we could opt to avoid it altogether and go in a straight line. If ever there was a scenario that might split the fleet, it's this one."

ADOR's celebrity jump-off guest, British comedian and writer Dom Joly, made a spectacular jump from Azzam's stern before surfacing to wave off Walker's crew on their way to the USA.

"What an adventure" said Joly, who had insisted on being hoisted up Azzam's mast before the start so he could take a ‘selfie' photograph with the huge crowds that had gathered to wave off ADOR from Brazil.

"It was a pity the wind was so light but I really enjoyed meeting Ian and Adil and the rest of the crew. I have downloaded the VOR app to my phone so I can see how they get on in this leg."

The sixth leg of the Volvo Ocean from race from Itajai to Newport is expected to take around 20 days to complete and fans can follow ADOR at – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


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